Fujiya

I will preface this review with the fact that I am shamelessly in love with Fujiya, visit it weekly, and basically order the same thing every time.

Atmosphere: (1/5)

You don’t go to Fujiya for the atmosphere. It is take-out, with much of the store occupied by Japanese groceries. There are two spots by the window, but they are not pleasant. I recommend you go take your sushi five minutes up to the beautiful Mt. Tolmie and have a picnic.

Service: (5/5)

The girls are lovely and helpful. Enough said.

Food: (4.5/5)

The food is generally fabulous. And I can confirm this with the agreement of many of my friends and loved ones who eat regularly at Fujiya (and who actually eat the fish). It is my understanding that depending on the time you visit, the fish can occasionally be a little less fresh, but generally it is so busy that there is a big turnover anyway. I can say that all the vegetarian dishes are delicious. Yam tempura rolls, don, vegetable rolls, kappa, tamago, cones, miso. All very yum.

Value: (5/5)

You can easily get a filling meal at Fujiya for less than 5-10 dollars, depending on if you’re going vegetarian and how hungry you are. I find the quality of their sushi much better than that of many of the sushi restaurants in town, so I would consider the value to be no less than excellent.

Overall: (4.75/5)  And yes, I can give out quarter points.

Fujiya is a great spot for affordable take-out Japanese food, and I would venture to say they serve the best sushi in Victoria. You should go, pronto.

 

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Spice Jammer

The lure of the Groupon brought Shanna and I to Spice Jammer on Tuesday night, on a quest for delicious discounted Indian food. For all the three years I’ve lived in Victoria so far, I have never eaten Indian food in this city, and felt it my duty to finally check out how the food compares to my previous Indian experiences. And I must admit, my standards are pretty lofty. I lived just outside of London, England until I was nine, and spent subsequent years living in Abbotsford, BC, Canada, both of which have a large number of Indian immigrants and subsequently a large amount of DELICIOUS (and cheap) Indian food. Seeing the price tag of some Victoria restaurants definitely threw me off to start, but luckily the food at Spice Jammer didn’t disappoint.

Atmosphere: 3.5/5

Spice Jammer is quite dark, but the hanging lamps above the tables provide enough light to see. The decor is okay, if not a little tacky; and the tables a little awkwardly placed between the large plastic plants. Also, I was caught a little off guard by how far back you have to go in the restaurant to get past the waiting area to the actual restaurant. Overall, I wasn’t bowled over, but it was pleasant and intimate and that was good enough.

Service: 4.5/5

Service was friendly and prompt, although there was some confusion as to who was actually serving us; for a while it seemed we had two servers. They seemed well-versed in Groupon protocol and asked for it towards the beginning of the meal – obviously having served lots of Groupon-holders! The servers did what they needed to do with a smile, which always improves the dining experience.

Food: 4/5

Spice Jammer was yummy. (Apologies for crappy phone pictures – I forgot my camera.)

I got the mixed vegetable curry. Boring? Perhaps, but for me, it reveals whether or not the kitchen is capable of making basic vegetarian food. And they definitely are! It had LOTS of vegetables, without relying too heavily on potatoes and peas as filler. The consistency was perfect for mixing with rice – not too thick, not too runny. My only complaint – it could have been spicier. I got medium, which is what I usually order, but I think Spice Jammer tones down their spices for the Western palette.

Shanna ordered the Palak Chicken with the bone in, and she too was impressed with the quality of the food! There wasquite a bit of meat (definitely enough for leftovers), and the spinach seemed to be well-cooked. However, Shanna got her dish mild, and she also felt that it could have been a little spicier.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rice and naan were both great. Rice is hard to mess up, but naan can be hit-or-miss, so I was impressed that they managed to do such a delicious job on both. I would almost come back just for the naan.

Value: 2/5

Nineteen bucks for a curry? Really?! The prices on the website are inaccurate, so don’t be fooled – Spice Jammer is pricy! However, they have a great deal on Tuesdays and Wednsdays that would be worth coming for – twenty bucks gets you two curries, an appy, and a dessert. I would go for that deal, but paying full price is definitely not an option for me. The food was good, but compared to the more authentic stuff I’ve had that was at least half the price, I wasn’t convinced.

Overall: (3.5/5)

Spice Jammer has good food, good service, and a decent atmosphere; but probably isn’t worth it unless you go on a deal day,  have a coupon, or have no money constraints.

http://www.spicejammer.com/

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Charlotte’s Restaurant Wishlist

While I have had the pleasure of eating at many delicious Victoria restaurants, there are still many that are beckoning my presence. Also, I’d like to revisit some of the restaurants I’ve already tried to solidify their awesomeness – or lack thereof. Following are my restaurant wishlists. Let me know if you have any suggestions for places to try!

Places to try:

Ulla

Foo

The Office

Zambri’s

Blue Nile

India Curry House

Spice Jammer* (going tomorrow – expect a review soon!)

Sabri

Chuleta (by Little Piggy)

Hernandez

Kulu

Nar

Wild Saffron

Pizza places, in general (comparison post, perhaps?)

+ probably many, many, many more!

 

Places to Revisit:

Rebar

The Blue Fox

Pink Sugar

The Mint

Noodle Box

Lady Marmalade

UVic Grad House

The Reef

Fujiya

Mo:le

Canoe Club

 

I will leave you with photos of the delicious meal my darling mother made me this evening. Garlic bread and veggie lasagne!

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Murchie’s

Ah, Murchie’s. Whether for a decadent creme brulee, a morning muffin, or a full-blown lunch affair, Murchie’s never fails to please my palette.

Jess, my accomplice in swimming and subsequent snacks, accompanied me to Murchie’s on a typical Tuesday lunchtime. We frequent Murchie’s fairly often, though usually for afternoon treats – this time we were in the pursuit of lunch.

Atmosphere: (4/5)

One of my favourite things about Murchie’s is the cosy tea salon located in the back of the building. It is almost always fairly busy, but I’ve never had too much trouble finding a seat. It’s especially nice to grab a seat by the window and spy on the offices and hair salon across the street! You can order your food and drinks and carry it back to the tea salon on their signature silver trays; that is, if you don’t get bumped by the other people who have the same agenda.

Service: (4/5)

The service that is actually provided at Murchie’s is usually friendly, if not a little chaotic. They seem to have a lot of staff, all of whom are taking orders from people waiting in line. Once you actually get to the till, you are usually served by someone completely different who doesn’t have a clue what you ordered. This can be mildly confusing if, like me, you have already changed your mind about your lunch four times. However, all in all, this is just part of the staff’s attempts to work their way efficiently through the often long line at the counter, and they usually do a good job of it.

Food: (4.5/5)

I can tell you already that their scones, creme brulee, cookies, banana bread, fruit crisp bars, and brioches are delicious. Their cheesecake is good, but not amazing. However-I digress! Lunch!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grilled spanakopita and a side greek salad.Well, the spanakopita was deeeelicious! Cheesy, generously spinach-ed, and not too greasy. The phyllo pastry was light, flaky, and altogether fabulous. My only complaint: the watery tzaziki. As for the salad, it was a great mix of peppers, tomatoes, cukes, onion, feta, and olives. The ratio of the ingedients was perfect, and everything seemed fresh. The dressing was herby and delicious, if not a little overabundant.

Jess had a very verdant looking vegetarian sandwich. For a seven dollar sandwich, satiety is a must, and this sandwich delivered! It was filled with grilled veggies (including asparagus, which I thought was quite unique!), olive tapenade, avocado, and fresh mozzarella cheese. Jess chose not to get it grilled, but she said that she “maybe should have”. Also, she mentioned that the bun had a sweet taste to it, which may have taken away from the sandwich itself.

Overall: (4/5)

Go to Murchie’s, and you will probably have a very enjoyable experience. They have a wide range of baked goods, desserts, and lunch items; as well as a great selection of teas and coffee drinks (it is a tea shop, after all). Because Murchie’s is located on the tourist strip of Government St, the prices are a little higher than they might be elsewhere, but not to the point of deterring a budget-conscious student like myself. And let’s face it; after a strenuous afternoon of strolling the inner harbour and shopping, nothing screams “welcome to Victoria” more than a cup of tea and a scone with cream and jam.

http://www.murchies.com/
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Fiamo Italian Kitchen

Ah, Italian food. For me, it all started with the fluffy white breadsticks of Olive Garden. I like to think my palate has matured considerably since then, thereby leading me to Fiamo not once, but twice last week. I went on a Tuesday and a Saturday – with each experience being quite different. On Tuesday, I was with one friend, and the last Canucks game in the Chicago series was on. Fiamo was very quiet, and the service was friendly and prompt. On Saturday, I arrived with Matthew (boyfriend) and another couple, and we were faced with a 45 minute wait (although this is not uncommon for a weekend evening in any restaurant). The service on Saturday was extremely questionable. I will elaborate below.

Atmosphere (4/5)

Fiamo is fairly dark, but not so dark that you can’t see your food. The candles on the tables are a nice touch, creating an intimate atmosphere perfect for a romantic date night.  The large chandelier in the dining room is actually quite impressive, and appealed greatly to my affection for shiny objects. I also quite enjoyed the exposed brick walls, some of which were imbedded with candles. However, the pictures of retro bikini clad women on the walls seemed out of place, as did the random bicycles attached to the walls. An attempt at avant garde decor/vintage sex appeal? Hmm.

Service (3.5/5)

I give service a 3.5, given the understanding that most of the servers/hostesses at Fiamo seem extremely friendly and competent, but our experience on Saturday night definitely brought it down a few notches.

Our hostess on Saturday was extremely accomodating; offering to call us when our table was ready as we went for a walk in the inner harbour, seating us outside while our table was being prepared, and never letting our waters run dry all night. She was friendly, thoughtful, and attentive. It was a similar case with my server on Tuesday night.

However, our Saturday night server was a completely different story. He took forever to wait our table, and when he finally took our orders it was a long, painful wait for the bread basket. This pattern continued throughout the night, coming to full closure when he gave us the bill without asking how we wanted it divided, mixing up our orders, and charging the wrong bills to the wrong credit cards. Geeze.

Food (4/5)

The menu at Fiamo is fairly comprehensive, with something for most people (though there was a typical lack of options for gluten-free and vegans). The bread offered is quite good; fluffy, herbed, and served with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. My only qualm is that I would have liked more vinegar in the oil mix. (My other qualm is that really, the bread doesn’t begin to compare to the salty, oily delights of Pagliacci’s. Just sayin’.)

I ordered the Vegetable Mosaic on Tuesday, and the Roasted Veggie pizza on Saturday. I must say, while both dishes were clearly made with fresh, delicious ingredients, I wouldn’t recommend the Vegetable Mosaic. It was weird – a mishmash of breadcrumbs (?) carrots, artichokes, peppers, lettuce, sauce (red? tomato?) and buffalo mozzarella. The ingredients were delicious seperately, but I didn’t sense an ounce of cohesion in the dish.  However, the veggie pizza was delicious – not too oily, just enough feta cheese, a thin but substantial crust, and beautifully roasted vegetables.

My fellow dinner mate, Jessica ordered the butternut squash ravioli, which I understand was delicious and generously filled:

Her boyfriend/fiance Koide ordered the Smoked Salmon Pizza, which was, in his words “possibly better than Pizzeria Primastrada”. I would cautiously agree in the case of my pizza, with the preface that Primastrada and Fiamo essentially encompass two completely different pizza styles.

My boyfriend, Matthew, ordered the pasta dish on special – a “10k” pasta designed for those in preparation for the Times Columnist 10k the next morning. Matthew was not in preparation for the 10k, but as usual felt it his culinary duty to order the heartiest, meatiest dish on the menu. He was impressed, saying it was possibly the best meat pasta he has had.

Overall: (3.5/5)

All in all, Fiamo gets a 3.5. It is good food, fairly good (if inconsistent) service, good atmosphere – all signs leading to a high rating! However, I didn’t feel that the value was quite there. If I am paying 18 dollars for an entree, I want everything about it to be FABULOUS. Fiamo was good, but not FABULOUS. I would go back if I had a groupon or something; but otherwise I will continue haunting Pagliaccis for my Italian fix.

http://www.fiamo.ca

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Welcome!

Hi there!

My name is Charlotte, and as an avid food enthusiast, I am super excited to start this restaurant-reviewing  journey! Living in Victoria, BC is the perfect environment to nurture a food-lover’s appetite for eating out. I initially came to Victoria, as many young people do – in pursuit of a university education – but found myself equally enraptured in the culinary scene! There are so many restaurants in Victoria that I love, and there are many more that I am looking forward to trying.

While this blog is aimed primarily at the traditional “restaurant review”, I am planning on including other food related posts; such as food product reviews, grocery store reviews, and possibly interviews of fellow food enthusiasts. I also may occasionally throw in a more personal post here and there to introduce you to my tastes! You can also refer to the About Me page for more information about me 🙂

Please email me if you have any comments, questions, or suggestions! I am more than open to ideas of places or products to review. My email address is charlotte@victoriaresturantreviews.com.

Happy eating!

 

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